Movers And Shakers

Feb 12, 2021 by

Movers And Shakers

A month is a long time in the world of ‘Specials’, especially during Eurovision ‘on season’. The ESC 2021 picture is starting to take greater shape with liquidity substantially ramping up on the Betfair Exchange, and two nations in particular, Lithuania and France, making early waves on the Outright market.

We also now have a bit more info regarding how ESC 2021 will take place. Scenario A, as expected, is off the table in this pandemic-impacted year. The EBU is striving for Scenario B and despite the lockdown in The Netherlands being extended to March 2, Covid is starting to be contained across Europe, and a Scenario B Contest seems a feasible goal.

How much audience is allowed in Rotterdam Ahoy remains uncertain, and it’s a similar story with the media presence. Even in Scenario B, the EBU has it in mind to have a smaller press centre on site of up to 500 people, with 1,000 set up remotely and using a ‘virtual’ press centre. In Scenario C, the entire press centre will be ‘virtual’.

In France, Barbara Pravi duly won the French national final with ‘Voila’, topping both the jury and televote, earning ‘douze points’ among 6 of the 10 jury members. After a ‘live in-running’ plunge to as low as 8.2, France has now settled around the 15 mark on Betfair.

Going against the general trend of French ESC entries this, in its current form, is a triumph of staging and Barbara elevates the track significantly live with her performance. It would be surprising if we don’t see similar staging in Rotterdam. Its jury appeal looks obvious, the bigger question is how well it can do on the televote.

With France being one of the Big 5, ‘Voila’ will head straight into the grand final. It can be perceived as a negative for an automatic qualifier not to have a full outing in the semi-final. What viewers will see is an extended clip of the song in semi-final 2, the semi-final France is voting in, but it won’t have the chance to gain traction on social media and which can help semi-final songs build momentum in the Outright as these measures are seen as a barometer of likely success come the grand final.

France won’t have the chance to gain traction on social media and which can help semi-final songs build momentum in the Outright

Having made the effort to stage another national final, and given the fact France will be seen as a contender at ESC 2021, the EBU will likely give it a decent draw in the grand final. If Barbara draws first half, it would come as no surprise to see her awarded the ‘Dami Im Memorial Slot’, aka, slot 13, also where Madame Monsieur were placed in 2018.

In Lithuania on Saturday, The Roop unsurprisingly won the national final with the misspelt ‘Discoteque’. Performed from the pimp slot, it romped the televote, earning even more votes than last year’s ‘On Fire’. It also topped the jury vote.

This looks like being a big fan favourite this year and it has established a position as one of the early ESC 2021 favourites on Betfair along with Iceland. It would be surprising if this doesn’t show up well on the likes of eurojury which will likely keep it towards the front of the market.

The track has a cool and catchy refrain, and the kooky visuals and performance by the band will ensure it is memorable on the night. Last year, Lithuania was being assessed, in particular, in comparison to the Iceland and Russian entries – 2 similarly uptempo, impactful tracks performed by groups with clear USP.

‘Discoteque’ has a cool and catchy refrain, and the kooky visuals and performance by the band will ensure it is memorable on the night

Trading on Betfair at 11.5 as of today, Lithuania has been matched as low as 6. Some top 10 backers think they are buying money, willing to back Lithuania as short as 1.2. It has also been well backed to win semi-final 1, in which it has a first half draw, having been matched as low as 3.1, and at 1.6 to finish in the top 3.

Iceland is still to reveal its hand and we have no idea at this stage whether Little Big will return for Russia, and aside from the potential televote competition those 2 nations might offer, ‘Discoteque’ seems one-dimensional as a track and too heavily reliant on a single refrain. It doesn’t develop over the 3 minutes and the concern has to be how highly this is rated by juries.

On Wednesday we heard Blas Canto’s two potential songs for Spain. Suffice to say, it was an underwhelming reveal. Neither ‘Memoria’ nor ‘Voy a Quedarme’ have the feel of competitive entries.

Germany’s artist Jendrick Sigwart has been announced and his song will be released on February 25. He plays the ukulele and his track topped the assessment criteria that resulted in Ben Dolic and Gjon’s Tears entries last year, and Luka Hanni’s 4th place-finishing ‘She Got Me’ in 2019. Jendrick seems to be quite a charismatic guy but he may walk a dangerous tightrope between either coming across as endearingly quirky or an alienating oddball.

Tomorrow night is the Croatian national final, ‘Dora’, and Nina Kraljic, is considered favourite to win despite performing first of 14 with her song ‘Rijeka’. She is best remembered for her Croatian entry ‘Lighthouse’ at ESC 2016, along with her Barbara Dex Award-winning outfit that year, and sneaking through in 10th place in semi-final 1.

We will have the Finnish and Norwegian finals the following Saturday as things gradually hot up in the coming weeks. In Norway, Rein’s track was revealed yesterday but the final there appears to be shaping up as a Tix vs Keiino showdown.

In Finland, Blind Channel’s Linkin Park-esque ‘Dark Side’ looks the wisest choice for Rotterdam presuming the band can do it justice live.

The running order, with Blind Channel performing 6th out of 7, looks favourable with main rival Teflon Brothers x Pandora opening the UMK final.

Starting on Sunday with ‘Imaginary Friend’, songs from Victoria’s upcoming EP, ‘A Little Dramatic’, will be released on her YouTube channel. There will be 5 EP songs in contention to be Bulgaria’s ESC 2021 entry (along with the already released ‘Ugly Cry’) with Victoria’s team seeking the opinions of fans in trying to decide which one to take to Rotterdam.

First impressions of this ethno techno delight is that it is significantly superior to Go_A’s effort last year, ’Solovey’

Romania’s Roxen, meanwhile, will have her song chosen by an internal jury among a shortlist of 6. She had previously stated she had found her perfect Eurovision 2021 song. It now appears her choice will need to be endorsed by this special committee.

The end of the month will see the Slovenian national final (February 27) and Italy’s Sanremo Festival will get underway in the first week of March. Early March will see a flurry of national finals and songs released including Iceland’s entry on March 13.

Israel’s Eden Alene will perform ‘Set Me Free’ in Rotterdam. It’s very early days but this may face an uphill struggle qualifying from semi-final 1.

Go_A’s track for Ukraine has been selected called ‘Shum’. It needs to be significantly re-worked and edited down as the current version is over a minute too long. First impressions of this ethno techno delight is that it is significantly superior to the band’s effort last year, ’Solovey’.

The EBU granted Ukraine the pimp slot in semi-final 1 last year and it may well be tempted to retain Go_A in the same position in Rotterdam. The barren nuclear winter/Chernobyl styling of the video certainly fits the current post-Covid/pandemic mood.

Here’s hoping the Kubing sound (a bamboo jaw harp from the Philippines, don’t you know?), reminiscent of the Lonely Planet/Globe Trekker theme tune of yore, stays in, currently heard around the 1minute 10sec mark.

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